Wearable Art at Design Miami: The Durable Made Delicate

Nicholas Forrest
Dec 9, 2012 5:29PM

As a big fan of contemporary jewellery design it was great to see that so many wonderful items of wearable art were being exhibited at Design Miami. 

I was particularly interested in the number of beautiful pieces produced using various different metals that create an illusion of fragility and malleability. 

On the one hand these pieces exude an ethereal beauty; on the other hand there is a sort of tension that exists because they appear to be so fragile and breakable.

A prime example is Beate Klockman’s Squashed - necklace, 2012, which consists of a number of textile-like gold discs tenuously connected by thin metal tubes.  The discs even have a textured, textile-like pattern on them which adds to their delicate appearance.

Janine Antoni’s Tender Buttons, 1994, are cast impressions of the artist’s nipples transformed into 18k gold brooches.  The metallic lustre of the pieces is in direct contrast to the femininity and fragility of the nipple shape.

Gerd Rothman creates custom-made and individualized to a hyper-specific part of his client’s body.  His Pendant, 2012, features an impression of a thumb and index finger cast in gold which are linked in a circle as though giving an “ok” signal.  Rothman’s metals appear warmed by the wearer, as if they’ve been softened to fit the body.

Taher Chemirik’s Choker makes use of a dappled and textured gold disc as a direct contrast to the flat black ebony disc that is linked to the gold disc with three beautiful diamonds. Once again, the metal used in the design is manipulated to appear weak and delicate.

Ring, 2012, by Karl Fritsch, is made of a chunky piece of aluminium that looks as though it has been carved from an organic substance such as wood or perhaps even rubber.  The metal really does appears to be soft – an illusion enhanced by the gem stones which look as though they have been pressed into the surface.

By creating an illusion of delicacy and fragility from a material associated with strength and durability, these artists have produced wonderful, wearable works of art that transcend the concept of jewellery as mere objects of adornment.

Nicholas Forrest